by Kate Shunney
The Morgan County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Board unanimously approved a five-year extension to a contract under which Morgan County Rescue Service, Inc. provides ambulance service throughout the county.
A vote on the contract extension came at the board’s January 14 meeting. Under the contract, Morgan County Rescue Service will be paid $1,342,154 per year for each of the next five fiscal years to provide 24-hour ambulance service within the boundaries of the county.
The company will be paid from the Morgan County Emergency Medical Services Fund. Money comes from an annual Ambulance Fee paid by county property owners. The fee is $150 per dwelling unit.
The EMS contract specifies that Morgan County Rescue Service will provide three Advanced Life Support (ALS) units in the county.
Morgan County Rescue Service operates out of two stations in the county – one in Berkeley Springs and one in Paw Paw.
The company has provided ambulance service to the county under contract since July 1, 2016. That contract was set to expire on June 30 of this year.
According to EMS Board officials, Morgan County Rescue Service director Kevin Duckwall provided 2018 data showing “outstanding performance in meeting the emergency ambulance requirements of the County” under the current contract. Duckwall updated the EMS Board on his company’s plans to build a permanent ambulance station in Paw Paw. The rescue service has a short-term contract to operate out of the Paw Paw Volunteer Fire Department’s building now.
Duckwall told EMS Board members that his company would “favor a long-term contract that would add stability in hiring quality Paramedics and EMT employees,” officials wrote in an public statement about the contract extension.
The five-year contract with the current ambulance fee rate was approved by the EMS Board and accepted by the Morgan County Rescue Service.
Approving the contract were board members Laura Breeden, Carl Cowgill, George Didawick, Lori Kiley, Larry Mann and Commissioner Sean Forney.
Under the county’s Ambulance Fee ordinance, the Morgan County Commission must receive an annual budget from the EMS Board by February 1 showing “an annual budget estimate for the total cost of providing emergency ambulance service within the geographical boundaries of the county.”
That budget has to be presented to the County Commission for formal approval for the use of the collected Ambulance Fee.
The ambulance fee was doubled from $75 to $150 in 2016.